In July of that year, a radicalized American Muslim, working on the orders of a contact he later described as an operative of the Iranian government, went to the Bethesda home of Ali Akbar Tabatabai, a former spokesman for the Iranian embassy who had become a high-profile critic of Ayatollah Khomeini and the revolutionary regime, and shot him dead.
That was the only time Iran was known to have struck on US soil, but in subsequent years it frequently acted in Europe against former Iranian officials it viewed as threats.
Iran developed a different pattern for hitting at the US and other enemies – most notably Saudi Arabia, but also Israel. It used of proxies like Hizbullah in Lebanon. The attacks on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and on the Khobar Towers US military housing in Saudi Arabia in 1996 are both attributed to Iran through proxy operatives.
More recently, US officials believe Iran has worked directly through its own forces, in particular the Revolutionary Guard Corps cited Tuesday, to attack US forces and interests in Iraq and in Afghanistan.